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Tuesday, August 8, 2023
August 8, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:44 PM :: 2211 Views

Kauai Birds Pushed to Edge of Extinction by Mosquito-borne Avian Malaria

Molokai Principal Gets Nepotism Exception

HUD $21M Block Grant for DHHL

DHHL Awards First-Ever 'Subsistence' Ag Lots

Emergency Order an Indictment of Legislative Housing Policy

SA: … Gov. Josh Green has accomplished what housing advocates have wanted for years: He reduced red tape that has frustrated the growth of affordable housing.

Now the pressure is on the Legislature to enact permanent reform.

But there’s a catch: The governor’s emergency order on affordable housing cannot realistically be duplicated by the state Legislature. And that points to an even bigger problem: the possibility that Hawaii lacks the political will to make the changes needed to grow housing at all levels….

how can the Legislature make these measures last?

Technically, the Legislature could amend or eliminate much of the statutory language suspended in Green’s order. Also, lawmakers could limit county and LUC authority over approvals and create a new agency charged with streamlining the approval process.

But realistically, none of those are likely. The emergency proclamation itself is almost an indictment of legislative inaction to date.

However, it is possible for the Legislature to enact reforms that follow the theme and intent of Green’s order without going quite as far. Thus, the Legislature could:

>> Force the counties to relax zoning restrictions so as to allow for development of affordable housing and necessary infrastructure.

>> Revisit the rules and statutes related to historic preservation and environmental impact statements to ensure that they are not burdensome to homebuilders.

>> Require counties and government agencies to revise rules related to building requirements, infrastructure, and development approvals.

>> Limit the LUC’s decision-making authority to projects over 100 acres, allowing any district boundary amendments under 100 acres to be approved by the county. The Legislature also could condense the timeline for approvals at both the LUC and county levels.

Yes, the Legislature can’t duplicate the governor’s order. But it does have the power to build on it and permanently remove the slow and obstructive bureaucracy that has blocked the growth of housing in our state.

The only question now is whether state lawmakers will do so, or whether they will prolong a housing emergency of our own making….

Related: Housing Emergency Designed to Fail > Hawaii Free Press

read … Column: Legislature’s turn to act on housing | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Honolulu plans $257.1 million CIP, rail bond sale

SA: … Honolulu plans to sell $257.1 million in general obligation bonds to subsidize its 2024 capital improvement program as well as the ongoing construction of the Hono­lulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s rail project…. 

CB: City’s Bonds Sale To Fund Rail, City Improvements

SA: City sells $271M in general obligation bonds | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

read … Honolulu plans $257.1 million CIP, rail bond sale | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Kihei’s $245M high school finally opens with 139 Students--Teachers Can’t Afford to Live There

MN: … Kulanihako’i High, mauka of Piilani Highway and east of the Kulanihakoi Street and Piilani intersection, welcomed 139 freshmen and sophomores to its $245 million campus, with future phases still to be built out….

Maxwell said she currently has 32 teachers but has space for up to 37 and has offers out to other teachers. However, she said finding affordable housing is standing in the way of teachers committing to the school….

The state Legislature made multiple appropriations to the project for design, land acquisition and permits dating back to 2004. But in 2011, nearly $20 million in funding for the project was allowed to lapse.

In 2013, the Legislature included $130 million for the school in its budget, but the Department of Education was only able to access some of the funding due to a procedural issue, officials told Kihei residents in 2015. The department decided to build the school in phases as funding became available.

A groundbreaking was held for the high school in January 2016, with hopes the school could open in 2020. The targeted opening date has changed multiple times over the years, from 2014 to 2016 to 2020 and beyond….

read … Dream come true: Kihei’s high school finally opens | News, Sports, Jobs - Maui News

A Big Island Man Sues Over Gun Permit Privacy Protection

CB: …Hawaii County is facing a lawsuit over background checks required for people applying for a concealed carry firearm permit.

James Grell argued that the application process requires him to relinquish privacy protections. He applied for a permit twice this year and was denied both times by the Hawaii Police Department because he refused to waive attorney-client privilege and the right to privacy with his physician, the suit alleges.

The waiver in the application was “too broad” and “Grell is unable to exercise his right to bear a firearm or even apply to do so until he permits the HPD’s fishing expedition into his constitutionally protected private information,” his lawyers wrote in a motion for a preliminary injunction filed Friday….

HIFICO: YET ANOTHER HAWAII LAWSUIT FILED.... - Hawaii Firearms Coalition | Facebook

read … A Big Island Man Sues Over Gun Permit Privacy Protection - Honolulu Civil Beat

Bogus legal mail used to smuggle drugs to Hawaii inmates

HNN: … Legal mail is being used to send illegal drugs to Hawaii inmates, Hawaii News Now has learned.

It’s a common problem in many states, but not one that attorney Jonathan Burge thought he would be involved in. Burge said he doesn’t have any clients in the Halawa Correctional Facility so he was surprised when a large envelope arrived at his office that was originally destined for HCF….

(So much is being smuggled that it is overflowing the mail system and spilling back to attorneys’ offices.)

But it was addressed to an inmate Burge does not know — who was not found to be in the prison. That’s why it was marked “return to sender.”

When Burge’s employee opened the package, it appeared to be a stack of papers. But hidden inside a cut-out piece of cardboard, was a bag of meth.

“I was surprised and I was upset that they’re using my name to get drugs in,” said Burge, who called the Honolulu Police Department.

“When I thought about it, well, how many times are they doing this?” said Burge.

He was especially concerned because the smugglers had a stamp made with his return address….

There have been corrections staff arrested for smuggling and DPS has increased surprise sweeps in all the jails and prisons statewide.

The most recent was Monday morning when K9 units hit the Oahu Community Correctional Center, Module 18. No illegal drugs were found in this shakedown but lots of other contraband was, including batteries, unapproved clothes and foods.

In other recent raids, meth and cocaine were found….

Burge, a former HPD officer, said he was surprised at how much meth fit into the package.

“It was over an eighth of an ounce. And distribution of over an eighth of an ounce is the highest felony there is,” he said….

read … Attorneys unknowingly being used to smuggle drugs to Hawaii inmates

Lack of Mental Health Care Killing Homeless Youth

KITV: … Just down the road from the RYSE Center, is a memorial to Acacia Kaiu-Brown who died two weeks ago. She was one of three homeless youth served by RYSE, who Houser said struggled with mental health issues and who died by suicide over the past 6 months.

Those deaths highlight the critical need for mental health help for homeless youth.

"We can provide a bed to get them off the street, so they will not be in communities. But without the therapeutic psychiatry to stabilize these youth - it is like a revolving door," added Houser….

read … Recent suicides highlight challenges for Hawaii's homeless youth

Soft-on-Crime Crowd Wants to Abolish Prison Program Requirements to Let Even More Criminals Back out onto the Streets Sooner

CB: … The Hawaii Paroling Authority held over 1,800 hearings for nearly 1,500 inmates seeking parole in fiscal year 2022. Over 70% of those hearings ended with the inmate remaining in prison, according to the most recent annual report.

It didn’t break down the reasons. But a recent review of parole hearings by the (soft-on-crime) Hawaii Correctional System Oversight Commission shed light on one major concern….

Carrie Ann Shirota, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union … said it’s unfair to keep inmates behind bars because of conditions beyond their control….

(IQ Test; Are you laughing?)

Parole requirements differ individually, but usually focus on cognitive skills training classes and substance abuse treatment….

Department of Public Safety officials noted … (inmates) simply don’t start the programs until it’s too late….

read … Hawaii Inmates Are Kept Behind Bars To Complete Programs They Can’t Get Into - Honolulu Civil Beat

Unemployment Recipients Fake Interviews to Stay on Dole

KHON: … “A lot of people apply and they just don’t show up for the interview, or if you do hire them they just don’t show up for the job,” said Garrett Wong.

Wong said in the past three weeks, he’s had at least 20 no-shows.

“It’s really frustrating because I usually set it up on my day off and five people at a time wouldn’t show up and I would just waste my time waiting for that,” he said.

KHON2.com reached out to the Hawaii Restaurant Association and learned that Wong is not the only one.

“It is a very concerning trend where we see more candidates scheduling the interview and not showing up,” said Sheryl Matsuoka, executive director of the HRA.

Matsuoka said it’s likely that those no-shows are getting unemployment benefits and are taking advantage of the system. They’re required to show proof that they applied for a job from at least three different places each week. Some employers wonder if the state actually verifies them.

“Has the state ever contacted you to verify that somebody called for a job interview?” KHON2.com asked Wong.

“Never,” he said….

read … Restaurants see more job interview no-shows

Despite rising prices, Hawaii residents poised to see cut in food stamp benefits this fall

HNN: … The SNAP benefits program is a lifeline for over 156,000 residents across the state.

Starting Oct. 1, the cut for a household of one is going to $11 a month, while a family of four will see a monthly decrease of $35….

read … Despite rising prices, Hawaii residents poised to see cut in food stamp benefits this fall

Hawaii Medicaid recipients hit roadblocks during state’s massive renewal push

HNN: … Before the pandemic there were about 327,000 people on Medicaid in Hawaii. That rose to about 468,000 (because nobody was being checked or cancelled during COVID) — and all must re-enroll this year as part of an annual eligibility review process.

Starting in April, the state began processing 35,000 to 40,000 renewals a month….

The state said about 10,000 people have left QUEST, the name for the Medicaid program in Hawaii, in the three months since renewals began — mostly because they’ve found jobs with health insurance or their income has risen enough to make them ineligible.

read … Hawaii Medicaid recipients hit roadblocks during state’s massive renewal push

Honolulu Liquor Commission lawsuit going to trial

SA: … Filed in 2021 on behalf of Scarlet Honolulu Inc. and Gay Island Guide LLC, the civil complaint alleges investigators, administrators and others allegedly engaged in an “ongoing campaign of unlawful, un­constitutional, and highly discriminatory anti-gay harassment of Scarlet, Gay Island Guide, and generally, the Honolulu LGBTQ+ community” that went on for more than six years, according to the complaint, Scarlet’s owner Robbie Baldwin, and their attorney, James D. DiPasquale.

Chief U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson on Thursday issued a 38-page order on the city’s motion to dismiss. The matter now proceeds to a bench trial, where Watson decides, starting Dec. 5.

“Plaintiffs have presented detailed, uncontroverted evidence showing a disparity in inspection rates — a discrepancy that can be deduced using rudimentary mathematical calculations. Defendants cite to no rule of evidence showing this data would be necessarily excluded,” Watson wrote. “Moreover, defendants could have presented their own facts to explain away the apparent disparity, but they did not do so. In fact, defendants did not refute the facts in Plaintiffs’ additional concise statement at all, deeming those facts admitted.”…

read … Honolulu Liquor Commission lawsuit going to trial | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

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